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As more and more analogue systems are replaced by digital ones, the question
of how to deal with piracy of
copyrighted digital content is turning into a serious problem. For example, the
speed with which the “Content
Scrambling System” – the encryption standard used for DVD video – was broken,
clearly shows, that encryption
on its own is insufficient for many systems in protecting copyrighted material from
misuse. Digital Watermarking,
on the other hand, relies on the shortcomings of the “human visual system”
(HVS) and is about embedding
copyright information in a way that it is imperceivable by humans, while still being
resistant to modifications
of the cover media. Thus, digital watermarking can be considered to be a
supplementary technique to
well established encryption Along with the explosive growth of the Internet not only
desirable new possibilities - like publicly available
access to information databases around the world, distributed project work across
different countries,
or fast and reliable means of electronic communication - emerged, but the ease with
which digital
media can be duplicated and modified, or the fact that legislation is seemingly unable to
cope with
its rapid rate of change makes it also very attractive to people with dishonourable
With these drawbacks of the “digital age” in mind, creators of multimedia content may
wish for a digital
analogy to the watermarks that have been used in bookmaking since the 13th Century
This need for methods and tools to protect ones intellectual property rights initiated the
relatively new
research field of “digital watermarks”. Someone familiar with encryption techniques might
be tempted
to ask why there is such an amount of interest in the research community to develop
robust watermarking
techniques, if numerous secure encryption algorithms are readily available. There are
reasons for this:
• Encryption alone often is insufficient to protect digital content, since unconsidered
and erroneous
usage by human operators often renders it useless.
• If somebody breaks the encryption (e.g. breaking the “content scrambling system”
used on DVDs
with tools like “DeCSS”, “VobDec” or “SmartRipper”), copyright infringements can still be
using the embedded watermark.
• The decryption process usually depends on the data being unmodified.
• Since rightful owners are to be allowed to access the data they paid for, the
encryption needs to
be undone at some point. As the unencrypted data is normally being held in the main
memory of
computers, it’s not too difficult to devise tools for storing it onto a local hard disk (e.g.
many DVD
players for the Windows OS use DirectShow for video output. This proves to be useful
for multiangle
DVDs, where applications like “DeCSS” fail. By using tools that implement appropriate
filters to write the decoded images to a user-specified file instead of displaying them on
the screen (e.g. “DVDRip”), the raw video data is still accessible.
Because of these shortcomings, digital watermarking is sometimes referred to as being
“the last line
of defence”. Consequently, an effective watermark should normally have several
properties, whose
importance will vary depending upon the application [Kutt01]:
• Robustness
o Fragile Watermarks are highly sensitive to any modifications, their sole purpose
to prove the authenticity of a document.
o Robust Watermarks should be embedded in a way, that they cannot be removed
from the data without introducing noticeable defects.
• Perceptibility
o Visible Watermarks are added as a perceivable additional layer to the original data
o Invisible Watermarks should not be perceivable by human senses.
• Security Unauthorized parties should not be able to read or alter the watermark,
even if they
have detailed knowledge about the used algorithms (Kerckhoffs’s maxim).
• Multiple Watermarks Does the watermarking algorithm allow for multiple
watermarks to be detected
independently of each other?
• Speed In video distribution systems it may be necessary to use asymmetric
algorithms, which
offer very fast embedding methods, whereas watermark detection can take arbitrarily
While encryption often is the best solution for establishing a secure communications
channel, it can
have the disadvantage of unintentionally raising the suspicion of third parties.
Steganography, on the
other hand, doesn’t rely on encryption techniques, but tries to conceal the very existence
of an ongoing
communication. Consequently, a successful attack consists in detecting any covert
Although watermarking is conceptually equivalent to steganography, it usually has the
requirement of being robust against possible attacks [Kutt01].
Digital watermarking is still a very young research area, with its first academic
conference held in
1996 [Ande99]. Numerous algorithms have been proposed and dismissed since then.
Therefore, this
paper aims at describing one popular watermarking technique in detail (“Spread
Spectrum Watermarking”),
rather than providing a short and unsatisfactory explanation of a larger number of
methods. schemes.

• 1 Applications
• 2 Watermarking life-cycle phases
• 3 Classification
o 3.1 Robustness
o 3.2 Perceptibility
o 3.3 Capacity
o 3.4 Embedding method
• 4 Evaluation/benchmarking
• 5 Secure digital camera
o 5.1 Precursor cameras
• 6 Reversible data hiding
• 7 See also
• 8 External links

9 References
Digital watermarking is the process of embedding information into a digital signal in a
way that is difficult to remove. The signal may be audio, pictures or video, for example.
If the signal is copied, then the information is also carried in the copy. A signal may carry
several different watermarks at the same time.

In visible watermarking, the information is visible in the picture or video. Typically, the
information is text or a logo which identifies the owner of the media. The image on the
right has a visible watermark. When a television broadcaster adds its logo to the corner of
transmitted video, this is also a visible watermark.

In invisible watermarking, information is added as digital data to audio, picture or video,

but it cannot be perceived as such (although it may be possible to detect that some
amount of information is hidden). The watermark may be intended for widespread use
and is thus made easy to retrieve or it may be a form of Steganography, where a party
communicates a secret message embedded in the digital signal. In either case, as in
visible watermarking, the objective is to attach ownership or other descriptive
information to the signal in a way that is difficult to remove. It is also possible to use
hidden embedded information as a means of covert communication between individuals.

One application of watermarking is in copyright protection systems, which are intended

to prevent or deter unauthorized copying of digital media. In this use a copy device
retrieves the watermark from the signal before making a copy; the device makes a
decision to copy or not depending on the contents of the watermark. Another application
is in source tracing. A watermark is embedded into a digital signal at each point of
distribution. If a copy of the work is found later, then the watermark can be retrieved
from the copy and the source of the distribution is known. This technique has been
reportedly used to detect the source of illegally copied movies.

Annotation of digital photographs with descriptive information is another application of

invisible watermarking.

While some file formats for digital media can contain additional information called
metadata, digital watermarking is distinct in that the data is carried in the signal itself.

The use of the word of watermarking is derived from the much older notion of placing a
visible watermark on paper.